Have sales reps lost the art of probing?

Pharmaceutical Representative

How adept are you at uncovering objections.

As pharmaceutical sales reps, we all should be familiar with the word probing. Probing is a tactic to uncover a need or an objection.

But frequently, too many of us rely on the method of "showing up and throwing up." For example, we tell our doctors everything we know about our products without asking any questions. As pharmaceutical reps, we have a wealth of information at our disposal. However, we must remember that we are also salespeople, and good salespeople uncover their customers' needs.

When we don't, we make probing a lost art.

Recovering a lost art

In order to gain business from a physician, it is important to uncover his or her needs for treating patients. An example of a good probing question is: "Doctor, do you feel that you currently have certain patient types or situations in which you are not comfortable using my product?"

As an effective rep, it is important to state a probing question in a manner that makes it comfortable for the physician to give you a good response. A good response will help you uncover his or her need or objection and help the physician make the choice to use your product instead of your competitor's. Because we are in a competitive market, every prescription counts.

If you do not ask probing questions, you will never find out why a doctor is not writing your product. Without probing, you may never achieve a good percentage of the business from your doctors. Some doctors will write prescriptions for you, but the majority of the prescriptions may be for a competitor who has uncovered their needs for treating that particular condition.

Another example of good probing would be: "Doctor, thank you for giving my product a try. I really appreciate it. I know some physicians prefer to only use samples initially until a comfort level is established. Presently, are you only sampling my product?"

Or, "Doctor, I value your honest feedback. Do you have certain times you feel another antibiotic would be a better choice than my drug?"

Hopefully, questions like these will uncover the real reason why a doctor is not prescribing your product.

Another important part of probing is good listening skills. Many salespeople are excessive talkers. If you do not listen to what a physician has to say, you are missing a lot of valuable information that can help you and the physicians build an exceptional relationship. Building a professional relationship with a doctor is an important part of your job. If a physician does not think you are listening to him or her, he or she will not respect you as a rep.

When you listen to a physician, you are also uncovering that physician's needs and concerns about your product. Good listening skills go hand-in-hand with probing. After listening to a physician's response, the questions you ask will help you provide the information he or she needs.

Listening to a doctor also gives you the right to probe. Sometimes probing can be misconstrued by a physician as an interrogation. After listening to what he or she has to say, you can use probing to answer most of the stated concerns and help the physician better treat his or her patients. PR